View Full Version : A little help...?

05-11-2009, 10:16 AM
Ok, I know there are a few people on the forum who have had classical music training in some form or another, and know considerably more about music theory than I do. This may all just boil down to the answer "whatever sounds good" but I wondered if anyone could give me some advice on how to create a good composition for a string section? Unfortunately I don't have access to a small orchestra or I'd just ask them to do whatever they wanted. It's all going to be done using VST's and whatnot, so I'll have to create the layers myself. Is less really more when it comes to this kind of thing?

05-11-2009, 11:24 AM
String sections are (generally) one cello, one viola, and two violins.

The cello is in bass cleff, the viola is in alto clef, and the violins are in treble clef. Your best bet is to figure out the chord progression and determine what notes are in each chord, then making sure that the notes each instrument is playing match the notes in the chord.

Unless, of course, you want there to be a melody, in which case the cello and violas should take on a more harmonic and straight tone, while the violins play the melody and play notes outside of the chord.

A good set of rules are as follows: try not to cross your voices; the violins shouldn't be playing a note underneath the viola, nor should the cello be above the viola. Unless that's what you want, in which case go for it.

Also, the notes should not be more than an octave apart; again, unless you want a very open sound coming out of them, but usually for a string quartet, they're very close.

Finally, try to avoid too expansive of an arrangement if the strings are going to be playing behind something or along with another song. If they're their own deal, then you can be as linear or as open as you like, but I generally prefer my strings to hit the 1, 3, and 5 of a chord, and maybe the 7th or whatever "color tone" sounds the nicest.

Is that what you were looking for? I haven't actually written music in a long time, so this isn't exactly as clear as it should be, but I hope it's helpful.

05-11-2009, 12:19 PM
Actually, that's great. Thanks for the advice. I would really like the strings to be a melody part working in the background, as they'll be part of a song, not just on their own. The thing I was worried about was if each of the instruments had a different melody, then too many layers would sound messy, but I also don't want it to get boring and repetitive either.

05-11-2009, 12:30 PM
Right, your best bet is to have half notes or whole notes for the background parts, so that it creates a texture of sound without being overpowering. Plus, seeing as you don't have actual string players, they won't be able to get pissed at you for giving them such easy parts, so it really works out well.

05-11-2009, 12:34 PM
I think it depends on the song. If I heard what you want to arrange strings for, it'd be easier to answer.

The only big thing I have to say is that, since you're using fake strings, less is definitely more. Fake strings sound especially fake when they're really fast, extensive, etc.

05-11-2009, 12:55 PM
Well, the parts aren't going to be really fast or anything, and they aren't going to be really high in the mix either, it's really just to try and add a bit of texture and also because it's new to me. I'm just experimenting but figured some people on here would know where to start with it all better than I would.